The Chrome Horn - Champ Trail with Phil Smith

01/13/15

January 13, 2015


 
The countdown to Speedweeks in Florida continues. As of this Friday, Jan 16 only five short weeks remain before Daytona and New Smyrna come alive with the sound of racing engines to signify the official start of the 2015 racing season.

  It was mentioned last week that Frank Ferrara had passed away. MassLive reported that the 83-year-old lost control of his vehicle while pulling out of his driveway early Monday morning on Jan 5 and crashed into a fence, Police identified the victim as Frank L. Ferrara who was pronounced dead at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield.

  The accident occurred about 5:55 a.m. as Ferrara, on his way to an appointment got into his 2014 GMC and prepared to pull out of the driveway, Sgt. Patrick Manley said. "Apparently something caused him to lose control and shoot across the street," Manley said, adding that the vehicle crashed into a neighbor's pool fence on the other side of the street. Ferrara had a pre-existing medical condition that may have caused him to lose control, Manley said. It's not yet clear if Ferrara's death was caused by his medical condition or the accident itself, he said.

  A member of the New England Antique Auto Racers Hall of Fame, his generosity and loyal involvement to the sport made him one of the driving forces in local racing for more than 40 years.

  He became a car owner in the 1950s at Riverside Park (Agawam, Mass.) where Karl "Swede" Anderson was his driver. Ferrara also served as one of the mechanics on the car. After returning from the military, Ferrara found his former driver now wheeling midgets. The open-cockpit cars are what turned Ferrara's direction to flagging. He spent a decade waving flags for the Northeast Midget Association (NEMA) and two years (1966-67) as the chief starter at Connecticut's Stafford Motor Speedway.

  His early involvement at Stafford led to his sponsorship of the annual 100-lap July modified race, named in his honor, The Ferrara 100. Every driver who competed in the modified division wanted to win the race because Ferrara treated them grandly. Each victor, and the group includes Hall of Famers Ray Miller (3 wins), Carl "Bugs" Stevens (2), Ron Bouchard (1), Brian Ross (1) and the late Charlie Jarzombek (1), received a tool box filled with silver dollars along with a champagne toast in Victory Lane. The top three finishers were also given fruit baskets.

He was also a moving force along with Stafford Speedway owner Jack Arute in creating the first ever Car Owners point fund.

  In the never-ending soap opera concerning the Waterford Speedbowl, New London Superior judge Emmett L. Cosgrove ruled on Monday, Jan 5 that there was no basis to grant a reconsideration of the foreclosure sale of the track to Glastonbury businessman Bruce Bemer. New London businessman Edward Demuzzio asked for the reconsideration after the Oct. 18 foreclosure sale was approved by Cosgrove on Nov. 14.

  Following that, Demuzzio has 20 days to appeal the decision to allow the report of the Committee of Sale. Demuzzioís lawyer, Mike Bonnano, said there are multiple reasons for appeal, but wasnít immediately sure if Demuzzio will go that route. "Iím going to discuss it with my client and he will decide how to proceed from there," Bonnano said. Demuzzio and his company, CCI, Inc. are owed in excess of $250,000 by current track owner Terry Eames and his company, 1080 Hartford Road, LLC. But Demuzzio is one of the creditors who will not receive any of his investment back because the purchase price of $1.75 million was not enough to satisfy all of the $2 million-plus of debt that 1080 Hartford Road owes.

  The court proceeding on Jan 5 was scheduled for 2:30 p.m., but didnít get underway until 90 minutes later as attorneys representing the creditors conducted a little deal-making session between parties to try to find an end to the impasse. Bonnano, on behalf of Demuzzio, had brought in a proposal for the other parties, namely Bemer, lead creditors Rocco Arbitell and Peter Borelli, and Ted and Shawn Parker, to consider. The group, through their lawyers, apparently counter-offered with a proposal that Demuzzio was not very happy with and he left the courthouse.

  The deal-making continued, however, until Cosgrove determined that the scheduled hearing was going to take place. Cosgrove asked Bonnano where Demuzzio was so he could discuss the motion for reconsideration with him. When told he had left, Cosgrove asked if Demuzzio could return and asked his lawyer to contact him. Bonnano contacted Demuzzio, but was told by his client that he was unable to grant the judgeís request. Cosgrove went forward with the hearing, grilling Bonnano and the attorney for Arbitell, Bill McCoy, about a supposed deal between the two parties prior to the foreclosure sale. But having neither party present, Cosgrove had to rely on statements previously made in affidavits to the court.

  He also heard from the lawyers representing several other lienholders and from one lienholder representing himself, Shawn Monahan. The car owner and driver from Waterford said he tried to put together a deal that would have covered his investment prior to the sale, but due to a lack of communication and disagreements, was unable to do so. Monahan put the whole legal process in prospective. "Unfortunately, Iím out of my money and Ed is out of his money. We were on the porch with the big dogs and the big dogs werenít willing to share the food," Monahan said. Cosgrove then moved forward with his decision. "There is nothing in the affidavits that make the Court doubt the fairness of the sale or that there was a chilling of the bid," Cosgrove said.

  The decision by Cosgrove once again approves the report of the Committee of Sale. But should Demuzzio decide to appeal, it could be a long and lengthy process and could seriously jeopardize the 2015 racing season. "I donít think (Bemer) is concerned at this point, but if an appeal is filed then Iím sure there will be some concerns, because of the additional delay," said Bemerís lawyer, Edward Taiman.

  On hand at the court was Eames, the current owner and promoter of the Speedbowl, who said there is no hard date as to when a cancellation of the entire season would be necessary. "In the course of the last 20 years, Iíve opened it virtually at the last minute," Eames said. "I think the season has been damaged, because of the delay so far, but it definitely could still be opened."

  Meanwhile, competitors who contributed in order to have a banquet and many of those who raced in the final event of 2014 have not seen any renumeration.

  The Thompson Motorsports broke some new ground last week when they announced that long-time road racer, Lou Gingerella, and experienced motorsports professional, Josh Vanada, OTB Promotions had teamed up to host an event on Thompson Speedway Motorsports Parkís (CT) road course, featuring three of the regionís grassroots stock car divisions. Drivers from the North East Mini Stock Tour (NEMST), North East Street Stock Tour (NESST), and New England Truck Series (NETS) will join drivers from Thompson Speedway Motorsports Parkís (TSMP) Mini Stock Division for this historic event on Friday, September 11 and Saturday, September 12.

  The two-day event will mark the first competitive activity for stock cars on TSMPís road course since its $5 million renovation, which was completed in 2014. The format for the two day event will be a practice day on Friday, followed by a final practice, qualifying and feature races on Saturday.

  It was also announced that Historic Racing will return to Thompson Speedway Motorsports Parkís Oval Track. The 2015 season will mark the 75th anniversary of Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, so it is fitting that it would also see the return of historic racing on the 5/8 mile oval, for the first time since 2012. The Historic Oval Invitational will be a two-day event held on Friday and Saturday, May 15-16, 2015. The races are open to any race cars built before 2000, and will include Midgets, Sprints, TQ Midgets, Super Modifieds, Champ Cars, Vintage Outlaws, Stock Cars and more.

  The event will also feature a Hot Rod & Classic Car Show on Saturday morning from 10AM until 2PM. The cost to display a car is $10, which includes grandstand admission for the event.

  The first season of the Tri Track Open Modified Series in New England was a huge success for all parties involved. The series saw three races that were held at Lee USA Speedway, Star Speedway and also at Seekonk Speedway, (as part of their "Open Wheel Wednesday" spectacular show). The trio of races fielded car counts of up to over 35 cars and brought about some exciting heat racing where drivers made daring moves in an attempt to qualify for paydays that exceeded a $6,000 purse in all three races.

  As soon as the 2014 Tri Track Series was in the history books, the buzz around New England had been about whether or not the series would be back in competition in 2015.

  In a Race Chaser Online exclusive, series organizer James Schaefer announced the tentative schedule for the second annual Tri-Track Open Modified Series season in 2015. The calendar will see a May 17 race at Lee USA Speedway, kicking off the series on a Sunday at the same season-opening track from a year ago. However, a race at Monadnock Speedway on Saturday June 13 will replace the Star date on the Tri Track circuit. The finale of the three-race series at Seekonk Speedway will be on July 1, again as part of the Open Wheel Wednesday spectacular.

  While these dates are tentative, Schaefer says things are quickly taking shape for 2015, and says the series is a "throwback" of sorts to the old days. "The series is an attempt to bring drivers from all different series and different tracks together for some old fashioned fun," Schaefer said. "We are expecting to pay out good purses (over $30,000 per race) along with a non qualifiers race ($5,000) that we raise from selling laps at $50 per lap. That way all drivers go home with something."

  In 2014, the series brought about a championship point fund for the driver who compiled the most points in the three races combined, which was won by longtime modified driver and current ISMA competitor Jon McKennedy. The points fund will also return in 2015.

  "We also have a decent $10,000 point fund. I thought the crowd and car count at our last race at Seekonk Speedway was outstanding. The car count doubled from the year before," Schaefer said. The Seekonk open modified show has been in existence since 2005, but became a part of the Tri Track Series last year when Schaefer built the three-race circuit. "We hope to duplicate that at both Lee and Monadnock this year. Anytime you bring that many people and cars together it is definitely a good thing for the sport."

  "We will be renting out the tracks on two occasions (Lee and Monadnock), and that is a risky feat. Obviously, we do not want to lose our t-shirts as we did lose money on the Lee race last year but if the fans show their support, the series should be a success."

  On the speedway stock market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks were down for the week. Showing green was Dover Entertainment, which went up 0.25 to 2.69. The International Speedway Corporation dropped 1.32 to 30.44 and Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.25 to 22.16. NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) dropped 1.27 to 64.28, NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.12 to 4.12 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped 0.09 to 28.25. Two of the three major car makers ended the week in the green. Toyota went up 0.55 to 126.22 and General Motors went up 0.76 to 35.60 while Ford dropped 0.14 to 15.22. In the home improvement sector Lowes went up 0.65 to 68.35 while Home Depot also went up 1.47 to 104.90. In the big teamís sponsor stocks McDonalds dropped 0.01 to 93.25 and Aaronís Rentals dropped 0.25 to 30.37 while Coca-Cola went up 0.04 to 89.91, Target went up 1.13 to 76.46 and FedEx went up 0.31 to 172.76.

On the tube this coming week:

Wednesday, January 14

5:00 AM, NASCAR Race Hub - Best of the Year, FOX Sports1
3:30 PM, NASCAR America, NBC Sports Net
5:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub - Best of the Year, FS1
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN

Thursday, January 15
12:00 PM, How It's Made - Impact Wrenches, NASCAR Cars, SCI
5:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub - Best of the Year, FS1
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN

Friday, January 16
3:30 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
5:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub - Best of the Year, FS1
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
6:30 PM, NASCAR Race Hub - Best of the Year, FOX Sports 2

Saturday, January 17
10:00 AM, The 10 - Greatest Drivers in NASCAR History, FS1
10:30 AM, NASCAR 2015: A New Era, FS1

  NASCAR Modified Tour and K&N Series fans are still awaiting the announcement from NASCAR concerning their TV package.

   Thatís about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, and R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-mail: smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com.

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.


SourcePhil Smith / Champ Trail
Posted: January 13, 2015

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